The Sliding Doors Effect


In the movie Sliding Doors*, timing is everything. The story begins when Helen, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, is shown running down a set of stairs to catch the train. For the rest of the film, her life is split into two parallels based on whether she makes it or misses it, which is enough to make you evaluate of all of the coulda, woulda, shouldas in your own life. When life seems to splinter into different storylines, what you're experiencing is The Sliding Doors Effect.

This past weekend, I schlepped back to New York for an old college friend's wedding. My best friend offered up the sleeping alcove in her East Village apartment, which she calls "The Cubby." I hadn't been back since I moved out to California in 2013. Sadly, though, it was to be a very short trip: I was due to arrive on Friday night, and was already departing by early Sunday afternoon, so I thought this trip would be a nice and easy in-and-out.

Our original plan for Friday night looked like this:

 1. Drinks at Virginia's
2. 10 p.m. dinner reservation at Lupa 
3. Go home and go to bed straight-away because...

Saturday's activities looked like this:

1. Early coffee session at Sant Ambroeus Soho
2. Go to an 11:00 a.m. Pilates class
3. Lunch at Pietro Nolita
4. Go back home to get ready for wedding

In regards to Sunday, I'd have just enough time to squeeze in brunch with another friend before scooting off to the airport. 

As you know, nothing ever goes according to plan. What can I say, I was in New York with my best friend! We were bound to stir up some mischief. And, boy, did we! (We ended up staying out until 7:30 a.m. both nights, which was obviously not planned.)

After dropping off my bags at her apartment, we did, in fact, partake in fabulous mezcal cocktails at Virginia's, and were halfway through our casarecce with shortrib ragù at Lupa when occurred to me that I owed someone a visit–an artist friend who I had missed while he was in L.A. last month.

"Do you want to meet my friend?" I asked from across the table while texting him on my phone, "He's really cool." 

"'Kay," she replied, taking a sip of red wine.

And so, at midnight, we landed ourselves at a corner bar on the Lower East Side with two artists. After a round of drinks and introductory chatter, we were spontaneously swept into a cab to go dancing at The Blond. "Let's burn off the pasta!" we screamed to each other as we bopped around the floor. After that, we all stumbled down to my huckleberry friend's gallery in Tribeca and smoked Glamour cigarettes while discussing art and drinking cheap whiskey in plastic cups. At some point, I cried. And then we hung out at an apartment somewhere. Next thing we knew, it was 7:30 a.m. 

It was one hell of a night. 

Needless to say, we missed our morning coffee, Pilates class and lunch the next day. The weather turned cold. Sometime around 2 p.m., we both stood in front of a ramen shop in the East Village, staring at their picture menu with bleary eyes. 

Me: What's the difference between these pictures?

Best friend: I can't tell.

Me: I think it's the egg.

Best friend: (long pause) Yes... Yes, it's definitely the egg.

Me: Is it weird that I want the egg with the non-spicy one but no egg with the spicy one?

Best friend: (glazed eyes)

"Is this normal?" my best friend's husband asked her, "Do you guys stay out until seven in the morning when you visit her in L.A.?"

"No... It's not like that at all," she replied. "We usually just cuddle in bed and tell stories."

Our reality would've turned out completely differently had we taken a taxi home straight after dinner. What a difference a text makes.

*It's an oldie from 1998, but still remains one of my favorites. Gwyneth cut her hair into a modern pixie cut for this film and I thought it looked so chic that I went out to the salon right after I saw it and requested it for myself. I was seventeen.

Homeland Insecurity

"We've been hanging out for months and I still haven't seen your apartment," I was told recently. 

It didn't even occur to me that a few months had gone by. I have several good friends in New York whose apartments I have yet to visit, but, when you're dating someone, it can seem a little suspicious. For example, years ago, a girlfriend of mine dated a guy who never once invited her over to his place (nor had he stayed over at hers). After four months, we jumped to the easiest conclusion: he was probably married with kids. 

With absolute certainty, I can say that I'm not hiding a spouse or children. My personal hang-up, though, is that I don't live in a perfect environment. I have a housemate, my walls need to be re-painted, and there are mismatched glassware in the cupboard. I've been in the same apartment for two and a half years and, still, I feel like it's a constant work in progress. Progress that I'm very slow to push because, apparently, in addition to lacking the bride gene, I'm also lacking the home decorating gene.

Remember that episode of Sex and the City when Carrie repaints her kitchen cabinets in eggshell white and confesses to Miranda that she is exhausted from portraying herself as "together Carrie" to Mr. Big, who lives in this perfect uptown apartment with $500 bed sheets? I can see where she was going with that. When you're with a guy whose tastes in interiors is far superior than yours, it can be a intimidating. It can cause a little anxiety. It can cause a little shopping trip to Restoration Hardware for Turkish cotton bath towels and Belgian linen bedding, which is exactly what I did.

So what became of the grand unveiling of my apartment? 

"It's small. It's nothing like your place," I said, as I opened the door to my bedroom, "I need to get another lamp in here. I've been thinking about getting proper curtains too. I should just get it done. " 

I was nervous. Does he think I have bad taste? Does it look like I care enough? I searched his face for any telling signs. And then, this–he sat down on my loveseat and said: "I like your place. It's quite comfortable."